Arthritis New Zealand today expressed concern that medications that are waiting for Pharmac funding could be overlooked because of publicity about new treatments.

Ninety-four medicines are currently waiting for a pharmaceutical schedule listing by Pharmac following positive recommendation from PTAC, the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee.

Six of these medicines are for arthritis-related conditions. Arthritis New Zealand’s CEO, Sandra Kirby says funding may be delayed further because other treatments are jumping the queue, even though they’re not on the list.

“We recognise that waiting for funding of their medication can be a life and death situation for some people. But we hope that publicity about individual circumstances does not turn into funding priorities being set by media,” she said.

In its election manifesto, Arthritis New Zealand is calling for improved access to arthritis medications, noting that only an estimated three percent of patients receive treatment for arthritis with the latest innovative medications such as biologics, compared to nine to ten percent in Australia and the UK.

“An increase in Pharmac funding of $29 per person per year would clear the backlog of medications on the entire waiting list and make a big difference in providing early and effective treatment for a range of conditions, including arthritis,” Ms Kirby said.

For more on the manifesto